COLUMBIA - Community members have the opportunity to weigh-in on the final candidates for the first-ever UM System Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer starting Tuesday.
Each of the three finalists will attend an open forum, held by the UM Board of Curators, in the next week to answer questions from members of the university community.
After the racially charged protests on MU campus in 2015, the UM Board of Curators announced several initiatives to address areas of diversity, equity and inclusion.
One of the initiatives was to create a diversity officer position that encompasses all four campuses in order to improve communication and collaboration on these issues.
UM System's John Fougere said each campus has a diversity, equity and inclusion officer, but there has never been a UM System position do to that job until now.
"Having this position to be collaborating with them on overall, kind of 30,000 ft. strategies and metrics when it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion. It's extremely important to have that," Fougere said.
The appointed UM System Chief Diversity Officer will also oversee the Diversity Equity Inclusion Task Force, and develop a Diversity Equity Inclusion Leadership Training Program for members of UM System leadership.
"It's going to be very important to have a person in that position who can be the lead person in the strategies and metrics that we are trying to achieve when it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion," Fougere said. "Not only just to address the issue at hand, but also to move the University of Missouri System into a position of national leadership when it comes to how we address these issues."
According to Fougere, all three finalists have extensive experience in diversity, equity and inclusion in higher education.
"I think all three of these individuals will be people who can come in and really provide us with the leadership we need in this area," he said.
Fougere said the UM Board of Curators is not content with just addressing the current issues with inclusion; it wants the four campuses to be national leaders in diversity.
"I think that if anybody who takes the time and has the chance to really assess where we are with those initiatives would come to the conclusion that we have made significant progress," Fougere said.
The next open forums will be held Feb. 11 and 16 at the Old Alumni Center on MU's campus.
The Board expects to make a decision regarding the position by the end of February.